Interview with Desiree Dickerson from THNDR Games

Horacio sat down with Desiree Dickerson, Co-founder, and CEO of THNDR GAMES. THNDR GAMES is a free mobile gaming app rewarding users with satoshis, the smallest possible denomination of bitcoin. THNDR’s mission is to “accelerate the mainstream adoption of bitcoin, orange pilling one mobile gamer at a time.”

Discussion topics include:

  • Engaging Twitter followers
  • Working at Lightning Labs and with the Lightning Network
  • Mass adoption of bitcoin through mobile games
  • Using satoshis to reward and expose gamers to bitcoin
  • Transitioning from a science background into the crypto community
  • Working as a management consultant with government contracts
  • The value proposition of bitcoin
  • Working as a Fellow with Women for Women International
  • The rush of venture capital into the bitcoin space
  • The utility of the Lightning Network for microtransactions and ultrafast remittances
  • Advantages of the Lightning Network for content creators
  • Visiting El Salvador as a speaker for the Adopting Bitcoin Conference
  • THNDR GAMES mobile applications (Bitcoin Bounce, THNDR Bay, Turbo 84)
  • Gaming as the next social network

You can listen to the podcast through Spotify or YouTube.



[Horacio Ruiz]

Welcome back to the Alts podcast. I’m your host Horacio Ruiz. We bring you industry leaders and creators to give their insights on the rapidly changing and exciting world of alternative assets. Opinions expressed on this podcast by the host and podcast guests are for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Podcast hosts and guests may maintain positions in the offerings discussed in this podcast. On today’s episode, our guest is Desiree Dickerson, CEO and co-founder of THNDR Games. THNDR Games is a free mobile gaming app, whose mission is to accelerate mainstream adoption of Bitcoin, one mobile gamer at a time. Just by playing one of THNDR Games offerings, gamers get rewarded with Satoshi’s, the smallest unit available on Bitcoin. We talk about THNDR Games, mobile gaming, and Desiree’s journey as a Bitcoin advocate and CEO, let’s jump in.

[Horacio Ruiz]

All right, so we’re so delighted here to have Desiree Dickerson here. She’s the CEO and co-founder of THNDR Games. Desiree. Thanks for being here.

[Desiree Dickerson]


Yeah, thank you for having me. I’m very, very excited to get a chance to chat with you.

 
[Horacio Ruiz]

Awesome. Awesome. Desiree, my first encounter with you was you put up a picture on Twitter, and you were kind of taking a picture with a statue of Bitcoin man. And it was cool. It was like a gold Bitcoin bust. And it was in Budapest. And everyone like all your followers, like where is this? Where is this? And I was so impressed because there must have been like 20, 30 people asking me, where is this? Where is this? And you kept replying Budapest, Budapest, Budapest. I was like, are the people not reading the feed? But what I was impressed with was the engagement, like you were engaging every single person that was asking you.

 
[Desiree Dickerson]

Yeah. That’s super funny. Yeah. So that’s a statue of – or a statue dedicated to Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto is anonymous, has been anonymous, still remains anonymous, whether it’s one person or a group of people. And so, there’s this absolutely beautiful statue in Budapest dedicated to Satoshi Nakamoto. And I went there like sometime this fall. I totally forgot about the photos. And so, I posted it on kind of Bitcoin’s birthday. And yeah, people like went insane over that photo. I’m not really sure why, like I remember posting it and being like, oh, I wish I had something like really prophetic to say, or anything besides like happy birthday Bitcoin I think is what I said. But I was so busy. I was like, I’m just going to do this. But it was so funny because then like people kept asking and then I would just reply. And then it was just shock. I was like, really people are not reading the thread. And usually like, I engage with everybody, like even my trolls with like at least a gift or something, but it was so ridiculous. I was like, okay, I’m just going to keep replying. And then it kind of became a meme and of itself. People were like dying, like messaging me being like, you just keep saying Budapest over and over. And I was like, hey, whatever it worked, and people were nice about it, but it was just like really ridiculous. So, I was like, oh my gosh, I post a lot of kind of ridiculous things. So, I was like, oh God, what is the tweet that you act you – like my first tweet, you actually saw mine. So, I’m glad it was that one. And not some of the other memes that I post, but that was definitely an interesting thread to say the least.

[Horacio Ruiz]


Yeah. And I couldn’t help but reply to your picture. I actually asked, where is this? And then it was like, JK. just joking. Like we got it. You’ve answered it like a hundred times. So that was kind of the beginning. And I was like, so who know who’s Desiree Dickerson. And I saw that you were the, like I stated, the CEO and founder of THNDR Games and kind of got into that. And I was like oh this makes sense. Someone heavy in the Bitcoin space. You’ve been involved with the lightning network for a while. And I was like, yeah, let’s see if she’ll respond and come on the podcast. So, for those listeners, right, that are wondering what is THNDR Games and what does it have to do with Bitcoin right now? What kind of what’s happening right now with THNDR games? What is it that we’re talking about and what is your role in there?

[Desiree Dickerson]

Yeah. So, I mean to step back a little bit, I have been kind of in the Bitcoin space for a while and working in Bitcoin full time for about four years. And for a while, I was at a company called lightning labs, where we worked on the lightning network, which is a second layer protocol. We’re making Bitcoin cheaper, faster, and easier to use. And it’s not necessarily the perfect analogy, but it’s kind of like the visa network for Bitcoin. So, you’ll hear of a lot of people talk about, okay, Bitcoin’s really slow, there’s 10-minute transaction times, the fees are high. Well, the lot lighting network really was invented to solve those scalability problems. And so, with the advent of the lighting network, all these new use cases opened up. And when I was at Lighting Labs, I was VP of business operations, and so kind of really oversaw really everything on the business side of the company. And one of the, the really amazing roles that I had was in terms of like business development and partnerships, and really seeing what people were working on. And one of the use cases that interested me the most, somewhat for a selfish reason, was gaming. And I have always loved gaming, grew up gaming, but I also out thought about in my role, I thought a lot about, okay, how do we bring Bitcoin to the world? How do we reach mass adoption? What is the easiest way for people, the easiest, safest, and even funnest way for people to learn about Bitcoin, get their first Bitcoin and come to Bitcoin and become Bitcoiners? And so, I, for years now have been interested in gaming as a really wonderful use case for Bitcoin in the lightning network. And I’ve been involved with some projects, very active in this like very little kind of fledgling community of folks building games on Bitcoin or with the lightning network. And so, I decided to go full time because I believed it so much. And you know, Jack Everett, my co-founder, he actually started THNDR Games a while ago as a side project. And he was getting all this traction. People were really getting it. I was like, oh my gosh, this is so easy. I can just go to the app store. I can download an app like I do for anything on my phone, and I just start playing and I win Bitcoin. Like I win a Satoshi. Which if folks aren’t familiar, a Satoshi is 100 millionth of a Bitcoin. So, it’s a smaller denomination of Bitcoin. And we call that – we abbreviate that as “SATS”. So, people win a few SATs in our games, and they become Bitcoiners. So, when Jack was working on this, it was just really incredible because people were becoming Bitcoiners by playing mobile games and I was actually never into mobile games, and I had taken some time off. And when I was kind of thinking about my next role was like, what is the easiest way to make sure everyone has exposure to Bitcoin and this kind of global economy that Bitcoin opens up and mobile gaming was just so obvious to me when I looked at the numbers. Mobile gaming is almost 60% of the entire gaming market. That’s larger than console and desktop gaming combined, which is incredibly powerful. And that number is only growing. And more and more people have smartphones in their hands and that’s much more frequent than a gaming computer or, I can’t even get my hands on a PS five. Right. So, I was like, okay, this is just like a perfect moment to like kind of capture. So, that’s like, what we’re really working at is our mission same is gamifying the world through Bitcoin. And we’re doing that through building mobile games that empower players by letting them earn and win Bitcoin instead of other in game currencies. So that’s how I kind of came to this and that’s really why I think what we’re doing is really important because we can reach – we do have some constraints with obviously having to operate within the confines of the app store and Google play. And we could easily go totally browser based, but for us, and especially for me is like I really, really care about accessibility. And I think the familiarity, the safety and the ease of accessing something like this in the app store that people who have never – no idea anything about Bitcoin, like being in those in the app store and Google play store is like absolutely key. So that’s I think mobile is like really interesting as an interesting industry itself. And when we saw Zinga get bought up recently for like 12.9 billion dollars. So, it’s definitely growing, and I think there’s a lot going on with NFTs and blockchain gaming. But you I really think Bitcoin is like a very simple and sophisticated solution to an in-game currency problem. And so, I think like we’re really kind of trying to like hit this very, very specific sweet spot when it comes to accessibility to reinventing the way people kind of interact and earn from games. So yeah, I’ll stop rambling, but that’s just kind of a quick overview. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

That’s awesome. Yeah. And I didn’t know that mobile gaming, in-app games had that kind of market, [Inaudible 00:10:02] about 60% of all gaming. It’s kind of shocking. It kind of reminds me of… 

[Desiree Dickerson]

…yeah. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

You know, when I think of a mobile in app game, I think of candy crush. And when I first heard candy crush, you know what it is. But then when I found out what people were spending on the app to get to that next level or whatever my mind was blown, I was like, you’re paying how much? So, people get really into their games, but what you’re doing here is you’re getting people into the games while you’re kind of also earning Bitcoin. Right. So, I mean, you’re seeing an opportunity there where people are not just jumping into the gaming and kind of maybe paying into it, but you’re being rewarded for it as well.

 [Desiree Dickerson]

Yeah. You know, all of our games are free to play. There are in-app purchases. You know, I play all of our games and like with Thunder Bay, I refuse to like to pay for anything because I just like the challenge. Like you can win all of the levels without having to pay for powerups or anything like that. So, I do love that about our games. I will say like turbo 84, I have spent quite a bit of money on because I suck at it. But I think it’s like, there’s really interesting components to like – one thing that we – our community is insane. Like, let me just say, I love our community. People love our games. We have amazing telegram groups. Our Twitter community is just so amazing. I call them my fender fam. But one thing that we like to do with them and like they like to do is, we have like these casual eSports tournaments and it’s not like, okay, someone’s winning a million dollars, but people are winning like a thousand Satoshi’s, five Satoshi, a range of whatever, however much the tournament is in. And I think it’s really interesting that like, I mean people can play and they can pay to like get power ups and like compete and get better or whatever. They’re putting some investment of time and sometimes money in. But like there is the opportunity to win and actually earn a lot more by just playing the game. Even if you’re putting money into it. So, I think that’s something that’s really interesting. And also, if you think about it, especially with Bitcoins down right now. Right. But I think if you are a Bit coiner, you kind of have this innate belief that Bitcoin will one, be a global monetary currency. Which, I mean, maybe not everybody buys into that, but like we can all agree that there’s a pretty good chance that Bitcoin’s going to continue to be more valuable over time, regardless of price fluctuations, like we’re seeing now. So, if you’re winning a thousand Satoshi’s in a game, now that’s going to be worth significantly more in two years. And I think at some point it’s going to become like almost laughable. I mean, if folks aren’t familiar there’s – I can’t remember what it’s called. I can look it up, but I think it was like 2011 or something. Someone bought a pizza with Bitcoin now. And I think there’s a website you can go to where it tells you how much that pizza is worth now in us dollars, which is kind of ridiculous. So, there’s like a lot of interesting thought models that you can start thinking about in terms of gamification, because of the appreciation of Bitcoin as an asset.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Why Bitcoin? And I ask that in context of your background was in science, correct. Generally speaking. So, you were kind of going in that career track and then I don’t know if it’s safe to say, but your outlook or maybe your life was changed a little bit by Bitcoin, right. By discovering it, maybe discovering the community behind it. Could you talk to me about that change? Like what has that Bitcoin come or blockchain, the currency, how has that changed your outlook, your professional outlook as well?

[Desiree Dickerson]

Yeah, I mean, I think I was definitely very much into like the hardcore sciences, and that was really my academic background in the sciences. But I guess it was like also like an interesting time. I think I’ve said it on so many podcasts and interviews and what not. My intro into Bitcoin was actually through Dogecoin funnily enough when I was in grad school. Just because I was on Reddit all the time. And he stumbled on our Doge coin and thought it was hilarious and fun and cute. And I did love the community. I didn’t have a ton of friends in grad school. And I was like, okay, this is a fun place to spend my time and procrastinate from doing my work. And I kind of just thought that was really funny. And then I went into management consulting after grad school. And I had always like imagined a career in the sciences. And I did go and do, my first contract was working with healthcare.gov on the affordable care act. So, it very much was like still in line with kind of healthcare, life sciences type of stuff. But I was kind of forced go into consulting because I wasn’t going to go to more school. I could have gone to med school or gone on and done a PhD or done just like a lot more research. But I was like, oh my God, like I have so many student loans. I have no money. If I can land a gig in consulting, like I’m golden. Right. So, I was forced to kind of move in that trajectory and like luckily, I wasn’t trying to find a job right in the middle of the financial crisis. But I was in school and, when I finished school in 2011, I went to grad school because it was like, I couldn’t find a job. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Which was maybe not the best like financial decision of my life. But I’m glad I went to grad school. I very much enjoyed it. But I’m happy that I did it. So, I was made my way to management consulting. I did a lot of like government contracts, which I think is really kind of what changed my outlook on everything, where I was very close to how the contracts work, how government spending worked. And I became like, just very, very kind of disenchanted with the US government and just how the federal government spent money. It was just like, it was just constant, seeing fraud, waste and abuse, misappropriation of funds. And I was just like, I cannot believe that this is happening. And that kind of like led me like simultaneously, I’m still spending all my time on Reddit and. And from Doge coin, I was like, oh, okay, Bitcoin is like a real-life digital currency. It’s not just like fun and like shits and giggles. And so, I was like, oh, okay, now I’m like reading about money and debt and reading how people are forecasting what’s going to happen with the economy. And just like all of these people who are questioning the status quote in in our country. And I was like, holy shit. I became just super, super disenchanted with what I was working on with my clients. And that kind of really got me into Bitcoin. And especially on Twitter, just like reading what people were writing, it’s just like all this free knowledge and free information. I was learning so much. And so, I just got extremely active on Twitter. I blocked like everyone at my company, so they couldn’t read what I was writing. And it was just like kind of snowballed from there. And so, I went full time into Bitcoin and started working on it. And it’s something I’ve been incredibly passionate about. And I think I’m not the only one who has seen the problem that Bitcoin solves now. We are living in an incredibly inflationary environment and even people who I know who never pay attention to this stuff previously, like seeing a 7% inflation rate is just like mind boggling. And so, I think people are starting to understand the value proposition of Bitcoin and I mean, I know sometimes people think it’s kind of ridiculous. Like, oh, you’re working on games. You have like a game with like a stupid cat in it. But like, I think we’re just starting at the beginning, introducing people to Bitcoin in a fun, easy and accessible way. Which never happens in traditional finance. Like I never in high school ever had a personal finance class ever. And then going to school was like, everything was for finance majors. So, I was like, I never really learned any of that stuff or about these things. So, I think like, we’re even doing more than people have received with more traditional finance. We’re starting at the very beginning, making it super easy and accessible. And I think we’re kind of like the very, very opening of the rabbit hole for people. And I’m extremely excited to do that. And I think we’ll just like have much wider reach where we have like younger people playing our games and people in emerging markets playing our games. Whereas people otherwise couldn’t access like access some of these type of like introductions to Bitcoin and to just traditional finance. So, I think that’s something that’s interesting and has kind of like led me from oh, I still love science, but it’s like, my path like really confuses people. Like when they look at my LinkedIn, I always like cringe when I’m like, oh God, someone looked at my LinkedIn. They must be so confused. But yeah, that’s like kind of been my journey to Bitcoin. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

I know what you mean. It’s like, once you go down, once you start – because it’s so fascinating. Right. Because I think what Bitcoin does, is it, and you mentioned that Bitcoin really involves so much of the history of economics, politics, finance, social equity, it just brings everything together. Right. And so, then when you start researching it, and especially when you have a community talk about it with like you did. I could see how that could just be, Yeah, it changes your world view. And like you mentioned, like this stuff is real. We are experiencing some inflation here. What are the ramifications of that? Right. So, what does it mean to be living in a high inflation time and what does that mean for the, the middle-class family in terms of seeing slow wage growth? And I’m going on a tangent myself here, but everything you speak to, I can definitely see why you would go from one industry to another. With that being said, right, so you decided to change paths. What was that first step from the government, right, where you saw an opportunity to then really start chasing that new kind of passion, that new interest that you had in Bitcoin. What were your first projects that you were involved with as a Bitcoin or let’s say?

[Desiree Dickerson]

You know, I think one of the very, very first ones I had a fellowship actually with an organisation called women for women international, which thinks a lot about empowering women in post conflict societies. And this was way back when people were, I mean, blockchain is like a thing that people are saying again now, and like really excited at about. But I think it was like 2017, maybe it was really hyped up. And so, they wanted to explore like blockchain in a meaningful way, and not just like throw a bunch of resources. So, they brought me on to kind of like- in an exploratory or figure out like how this could work for their or organisation. Because they were having so many people being like do this on the blockchain or use these different assets and blah, blah, blah. So, like I went in and having a consulting background was more of just like a consulting project. But it was like really interesting to like to come through and understand their organisation and like kind of their technical infrastructure and really it boiled down. And I’ve like – I mean, I’ve always kind of been a Bit coiner, but I can see why other folks would be interested in other blockchains or currencies or whatnot. And it was one of the very first times where I was like, oh, okay, like really, I kind of proved to myself through like, doing like a full kind of research analysis, and like recommendation for them that like really, Bitcoin was like the biggest value ad for them. I mean, I was like, I’m sorry, I know that you wanted me to tell you that like every single one of these blockchains is going to save the world and you can like issue food to people on the blockchain. And I was like, this is all just like so much kind of vapourware. And like, at the end of the day, it’s like, the real kind of potential lies in just sound money. And sound money where it’s like, for instance, these women were like sometimes in – it was like post, like I said, post conflict. So, their husbands may have died in war, so they couldn’t actually have access to a bank account or their own – they couldn’t like actually Harbor their own financial freedom. So, it was like, my recommendation was like, okay, like they have smartphones. Like, that’s the one thing they do have. They can’t be banked where they’re living, but like, if you give them Bitcoin, that’s a way for them to reach financial freedom. And obviously that was like 2017, 2018. So, it was like still very early. Obviously not, there weren’t these like tiny little Bitcoin economies creeping up, like there are now, but that was like one of my biggest recommendations. And it all really stemmed around Bitcoin. So, I was like, okay, that was my first, oh, wow. Like proving to myself that like, okay, this isn’t just like, I’m not just going with the grain and like reading on Twitter and being like I’m a Bitcoin Maximus or whatever that is. But I was like, okay, like Bitcoin is like very much solving a problem that needs solved, rather than just like creating a solution that no one wants. And so that was my first like real little project. And then I went and worked at Lightning Labs. I was just super active in the community when it’s introduced to the CEO. And was there for three and a half years. But back then there was like barely any Bitcoin companies. So, like now it’s just crazy. Like we really need more people coming to the space to work.

[Horacio Ruiz]


Wow. Okay. Because I would imagine that it’s flooded already. But you’re saying that they’re actually – the developments maybe are so fast and there’s so much work to do, that you feel like that more people are needed. That’s pretty impressive.

[Desiree Dickerson]


Yeah. I think, now is the perfect time to get into like working in Bitcoin. Or right now hiring very aggressively for unity developers. But like we’ll be posting open job racks very soon. But like, I like voltage, I know, which is like a cloud hosted lightning node service. They are like hiring like crazy. I think as you’re probably – most people are probably aware there’s a lot of money flowing into the space in terms of like VCs and whatnot. Not as much as you’ll see for like NFT projects and whatnot, but there’s a lot more VC funding flowing into the space. So, all of these like small projects that just used to be like one or two people kind of hacking around and creating like a cool little proof of concept are now full-fledged companies. And are venture backed by like legitimate venture capital companies. So, it’s not like, okay, they’re all very much looking for good developers, but they’re also really rounding out those teams. So, looking for people with finance operations, marketing design. And so, there’s a website called bitcoinerjobs.co I believe. And there’s just like so many jobs listed there. It’s just – now is 100% the time to like jump in if people are interested.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Awesome. Yeah. And coming from you, somebody that made that jump. So that’s good to know because – and you mentioned the VC and everything, and this is my perception because I’m sort of into that NFT space. And you hear about all these investments going into the NFTs, into Ethereum, and different – layer one. People are creating their layer one blockchains. They’re investing into other layer twos. And it seems to me like Bitcoin has kind of been forgotten in that regard. Not in terms of the value of Bitcoin. That’s news every day, like, oh, what’s the price of Bitcoin. That’s front and centre, but it has kind of gone a little quite in terms of the development underneath it. Right. But from talking to you, you’re saying no, that money’s coming in. Not to the extent that the NFTs are right now because they’re getting all the attention, but that development is happening.

 
[Desiree Dickerson]

Yeah. Oh yeah. I mean would be great if it – always great if there’s more money flowing in. But I mean, I think it’s also important, it being smart and intentional money in terms of like my view in fundraising, it’s like you want value, add investors. And I think the money going into the NFT space, and I’m not like one to like shit on NFTs. Like I totally see the value there. I get why people are doing that. But I mean, if you just look at Jack Dorsey’s tweets and how he’s calling out a lot of these venture capitalists in terms of like, they’re really just like investing in a lot of these projects so they can just make money on an asset that these companies are just printing. Right. So, I think it’s a bubble that’s going to burst. I mean, I know it’s a bubble that’s going to burst. And at the end of the day there will be some amazing projects that stick and come out of it and are really, really strong. But right now, you cannot see the signal through the noise in those markets. But I think that’s how we see really great innovation. It really always comes with a lot of that, and I think that’s fine. It’ll get shaved off later down the line. But I am – I do think the Bitcoin industry is kind of benefiting from some of what’s going on in the NFT, DeFi, all of those spaces, because people are like, oh, okay, well they’re doing something cute like that on Bitcoin. And people always underestimate Bitcoin I think, because there’s no Bitcoiners in general and just like Bitcoin projects, never over hype.


They don’t like oversell. There’s usually something built before it’s like marketed. And I think that’s just something that’s just like very culturally true to the Bitcoin community and people who work on it. And so, I think it’s just like a lot less flashy. So, it’s – Bitcoin just generally garners less money. Bu the money’s still coming in. And much more so than it has in the past. So, I’m happy about it. But I guess time will tell how things shake out. I mean the entire, just even outside of cryptocurrency, the entire kind of VC like fundraising environment is like incredibly scary to me because it’s just, there’s so much money. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But it’ll be interesting to see. I don’t know, I’m a Bit coiner, so like I’m constantly questioning and constantly doubting and somewhat of a pessimist.
I’m like, why is there so much money? Like, why are people investing in projects that really have nothing built, no team. Like why are people buying loot boxes that there’s no game for? I can’t explain any of it. I really can’t. But I think it’s interesting, but I just hope the money keeps coming to the Bitcoin community, because there’s just so many amazing projects, so many amazing builders. I was so incredibly blessed with my role at lightning labs to see what people were building and get to kind of have a very high-level view of that. And there’s just so much good going on. And I really hope that those projects keep getting exposure and keep getting funding. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

One of those new developments, right, you’ve talked about it before. There’s a lot of chatter about the lightning network and Bitcoin and its role, it’s incorporation into the lightning network. Why is the development of the lightning network so critical to, I don’t say the development of Bitcoin, but the adoption of Bitcoin?

[Desiree Dickerson]


Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a really great question. And that all goes back to, in my opinion, like the scalability piece. Obviously, Bitcoin hasn’t been changed to be faster or to be cheaper because with every decision there’s a trade-off. But Bitcoin is incredibly secure and there are trade-offs to being what Bitcoin is. So, it is slow. The transaction fees sometimes can be high. And so, to solve those problems rather than change Bitcoin, the lightning network was established and there’s some really amazing things that came out of that like micro transaction. So, you can have like a transaction for a thousandth of a penny happen instantly for like practically free, which is incredible. Sometimes in our community there’s a bunch of people who get really excited about winning one Satoshi. So, remember one Satoshi is one-100th millionth of a Bitcoin. It is such a small amount of money, but people love it. And after an eSports tournament, if it’s like really been a good tournament, like we just send one SAT to everybody and there’s this like group of people who call themself, like the one sat gang. And it’s just like this badge of honour. So, like 2000 people in our telegram group, I can send them all one Satoshi instantly at once, for like practically free. The micro transactions are like an amazing use case for things like podcasting or video casting. So, which you should check out. There are a few things like syncs, chat, breeze and fountain.fm. They all do streaming for Bitcoin. So, you can go to those platforms and there’s a bunch of podcasts. That’s where I listen to my podcast and you know, I can listen, and I can just tip. Like instantly just press a button and the person gets in the podcast or gets tipped. And then there’s other people who do it up different ways where it’s like, okay, like it’s an hour-long podcast. Maybe only want to listen to like 15 minutes of it. So, I pay like 15 SATS, which is still so small, but at least the creator is earning something. And like, I now listen to all of my podcasts on those platforms because like, yeah, you know what I don’t want to spend like $20 a month paying for something on [Inaudible 00:33:32], but I’ll pay a Satoshi per minute to listen to a podcast. And that’s just like actually not possible with Fiat currency, because you can’t, one, send money in denominations lower than a cent. You can’t even send – ascent to someone like that’s, you can’t do that. The fees are too high on any credit card network. So, I think like micro transactions open up a like huge kind of opportunity for new use cases like that. Like someone actually just today announced they are doing crowd funding with the lightning network. So instead of having like whatever minimum, you have on most crowdfunding websites, like now people can just like pay one Satoshi or whatever. And it’s a small amount. But like your kind of like open the aperture for who can contribute and who can participate because, like $10 for someone in Venezuela is like quite a bit of money. But a couple of Satoshi allows people to like to participate in things like different crowdfunding campaigns and different things like that. So, I think there’s like the micro transactions is for me is like one of the biggest things that the lightning network makes possible, but insanely cheap fees is also not bad. We actually need to publish what our average transaction fee is. It’s just like, it’s usually just – it’s ridiculously small. It’s like, we’ll totally wipe out any credit card processor in the future. Because it’s like practically free compared to like whatever Visa charges. So, I think there’s that, there’s also just like how instantaneous it is. It just like happens immediately. So, I’m not like- if you haven’t like, I’m sure you’ve tried to like cash out from Thunder Bay or any of our games to a wallet. And it just happens like really, almost instantly. I don’t know if you’re cashing out to Satoshi or what, but it just like happens so incredibly quickly. And it’s like actually going to you. It’s not just like moving numbers in a database. Like you would see in most other kind of scenarios with traditional finance.
It’s like you, the money is actually transferred to you. I think that’s like for me is another really big thing is like actually being self-sovereign, and like owning my own money. I was talking to someone the other day that was like, I went to the bank to get out a thousand dollars from the ATM to pay something. And she was like, there was a – had a $250 limit and she’s like, I had to go to like eight ATMs before I could like take everything out that I needed. And it’s like, you do not own your money. You absolutely do not own your money. The bank owns your money. And like, what happens, Like I don’t ever remember having a $250 limit, like Zelle has a limit. Like, why like, please tell me why, like someone else can tell me how I spend my money. And it’s those limits are just going to keep getting lower and lower and lower and lower. And then what happens one day when like you can’t take your money out, which is like absolutely frightening to me. And so, I don’t mean to be like the total shock factor here, but like that’s just another component of like, I mean, that’s just Bitcoin in general, not necessarily specific to the lightning network, but I think the lightning network just makes it all more accessible. Because like anybody can participate like anybody can have like a few Satoshi’s, you don’t have to have an entire Bitcoin to participate. You can have a few Satoshi send a few Satoshi’s and I think that’s really powerful and that’s something that you can’t have without the lightning network. And that’s something you absolutely can’t have in the traditional Fiat system.

[Horacio Ruiz]


Your right. You talk about Dogecoin. Never underestimate the power of a crowd, right. So, like once Satoshi, two Satoshi’s here and there. But now you’re talking about a crowd of people that are really into or involved with the creator and that can add up pretty quickly.

[Desiree Dickerson]

Yeah. There’s a really cool browser extension called LOLLI, like L-O-L-L-I, and I’ve been using LOLLI for a while, especially with my house renovations. And it’s like, I will get Bitcoin back for buying a toilet. It’s ridiculous. Like I just, it’s just a browser extension. And when I like open that browser – like when I open my LOLLI account, I’m always just like shocked when I then see the USD amount, because I’ve been using LOLLI for years, and now it’s like, holy crap. Now Bitcoin’s not so much anymore, but it was like $60,000. I’m like, holy shit. Like, this is just what I’m earning from just small, tiny little things that I would’ve bought anyways. And that’s why I like stress with people, especially playing our games, is just like, you’re not going to probably earn enough in a day to like go out to like a fancy arse dinner. But like, it’s just supposed to be fun for a little bit. And you’re earning a little bit of rewards, but over time, like that amount accumulates pretty quickly. And then when the price of Bitcoin goes up, like you have a nice little stash there. So, I think you’re totally right about just like kind of the power of just keeping on in our community, we say stack stats, like you just keep stacking your stats, stacking your stats, and then eventually it really adds up.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah, I want to hit one part and then I want get into THNDR Games because you – and I want you to just maybe share experience. I saw somewhere. Did you go to El Salvador? 

[Desiree Dickerson]

Yes.

[Horacio Ruiz]

Yeah. Because El Salvador has adopted Bitcoin as an official currency. What was your experience there? What was your role there kind of seeing how this kind of town in El Salvador had adopted Bitcoin?

[Desiree Dickerson]


Yeah. I mean, I can’t really personally comment on the – like I’m not a – I wasn’t a political science major. I am not good at those things. Like I was just like a regular science major. So, I am also not an El Salvadorian citizen, so like it’s hard for me to make comments about, whatever, like their political environment that’s going on right now. But like in terms of just like what’s going on with Bitcoin separately, I think it – going there. I went to go to the adopting Bitcoin conference, and I spoke on the panel there actually about content creators and Bitcoin. But I was just blown away to see the Bitcoin adoption there. And it all started as, in El Zonte to which is this like cute little beach town, but also like absolutely gorgeous beach town, where some folks went down there, and they introduced everyone there to Bitcoin and helped the merchants onboard to Bitcoin. So, like, you can go there, you can buy everything with Bitcoin. I bought jewellery, I got surfing lessons and all using Bitcoin. So, some folks like spent some time down there teaching the community about Bitcoin and helped them get set up and totally helped set up the Bitcoin infrastructure and it obviously kind of snowballed and evolved to it becoming a national currency which is absolutely incredible. So yeah, I mean, I went, it was just phenomenal to see how excited the people in El Salvador were about Bitcoin. And it is really, I was just in San Salvador and El Zonte, and El Zonte was really the furthest along with Bitcoin adoption. And there has been some like kind of ups and downs with kind of the national rollout and how that’s kind of been executed. But people generally were very, very positive about it and you can go to McDonald’s and buy a big Mac with Bitcoin, which is like, absolutely incredible. So, I mean, I think it’s still very much like early days of an experiment. But you know, I think the people there, re regardless of the government and whatnot, but the people, the El Salvadorians, I think a lot of them are like really kind of excited about Bitcoin and understand the value proposition and are excited to adopt it and excited to use it. So, again, it’s very early on and I think it’ll just continue to improve there. But I was like massively impressed by the adoption and the level of understanding and excitement around Bitcoin as a currency there. 

[Horacio Ruiz]

Thank you for sharing that, Desiree. Let’s get into THNDR Games again some more. So right now, you have three games on the platform, correct? They’re all kind of, they’re different, they’re all different. I mean, if you don’t mind my – you can go into each one, but the main kind of purposes it, people can detain themselves, they can kind of distract themselves with the potential to earn SATS. And then if you could talk about that within the context of your idea using THNDR Games within your idea. And I say it’s your idea because you said something interesting, that you see gaming as the next social network. You said that in one of the interviews, so it’s kind of a long-winded question about what you currently have at THNDR Games and using that platform, those games, as you see it as the next social network, if you can talk about that whole.

[Desiree Dickerson]


Yeah. So, I guess to start with like the simple stuff, we do have three games. We have, the first one was Bitcoin bounce, which is an endless platform where just kind of like bounce along these little platforms. It’s super fun. I find it like anxiety inducing, because like, I’m more of like an idol clicker, like mindless type of games. But it is very well done. Very, we did a collaboration with Midwest Tungsten to get like the Tungsten cube in there as an avatar and did a whole eSports tournament around that. So, people have a lot of fun with that one. And then we have Turbo84, which is like, kind of like Miami vice style. Again, another endless runner where you’re like a car and you’re kind of like going like dodging platforms and like your speed increases over time. And so that one’s got really cool vapor wave type vibes and like a really good soundtrack. And then we just recently came out with Thunder Bay, which is match three bubble shooters. So similar to like the candy crush style where you kind of follow this little cat named spark who loves to drink some like tropical cocktails, and you join him on his journey through like these tropical islands. Yeah. You just shoot these like little bubble creatures and it’s – I love that one. I think it’s just like Absolutely adorable. And we released that in December and people absolutely loved it. clambered around the characters. And we have all these like really fun memes coming out of the community. So that one’s been a ton of fun. And we have like a bunch of really fun games, kind of in the pipeline and we’ve – the community’s been begging for some retro games with Bitcoin integrated into them. So those are some fun stuffs, some fun things that we’re working on. But we’re really focused on kind of building really world class games that have Bitcoin in them rather than just like creating games for the sake of having Bitcoin in them. So, it’s like we want our games to be fun regardless if you’re winning Bitcoin or not. And I think we’ve done a really great job of that. And we’ve built the team to ensure that’s the product that we’re building. So, everyone on the team pretty much besides myself were game developers or in like the traditional gaming industry. And have become interested in Bitcoin thereafter rather than it being a bunch of Bitcoiners who are building games, which I don’t think you’re ever going to get – no offense to my fellow Bitcoiners, but I don’t think you’re going to get like super high-quality games that way. So that’s like a little bit about our portfolio so far. Again, we’re like very kind of early, like the full team just kind of came together in October. So, definitely be expecting a bunch more games over the next few months and then for forever. And then in terms of like the social network comment, yeah, that’s something that I think will happen and is already happening. Seeing games obviously like Fortnite and just like seeing how these young generations kind of interact with their teams, rather than like spending time on like AIM like back in the day, just like chatting away, people are actually coming home from school and interacting with each other in these games like Fortnite. And I think we saw that really kind of, the pace of games becoming social platforms, that the pace really picked up, obviously during the pandemic. And we saw among us, really take off and people really kind of interacting and hanging out in among us. And then really just in most virtual spaces. Like a way actually, how I met Jack a co-founder for the first time was in VR chat or alt space or whatever it’s called, with like my Oculus. So, like we hadn’t met in real life ever, until like a couple months ago, which is crazy. And then similarly, there’s just like all of these social components being added into these games. So, I think it’s just really inevitable. When the pandemic was going on my team at Lightning Labs, we would do some of our like water coolers or like kind of just like casual Hangouts in animal crossing, when the new animal crossing came out, we’d like go to each other’s islands and hang out in the game. So, I think as we continue to kind of live more in virtual worlds, I think it’s just going to kind of happen more naturally. And I think the gaming industry is like really pushing that as well. Because people will obviously spend more time in games if that’s where their social networks are kind of popping up. So, you’re seeing a lot more in mobile gaming. It’s something that I am very passionate about. And it’s something we’re thinking a lot about at THNDR Games, because I think once you are – your social network is in kind of your gaming network, and all of your value transfer your like all of your transaction become virtual as well. Like you can really have like a very unified experience in game. And you with like Bitcoin and these micro transactions, you think about, okay, I’m winning Bitcoin and game, well, now I can buy in game assets. Like now there’s like these complete, like circular, like mini circular economies in these games, and between games. And so, I mean, then we start like kind of getting very close to what my idea of like a metaverse kind of looks like for lack of better term right now. But I think it will be like a very, very nice place where people do all of their social interactions and that like is like person to person and like monetary transactions as well. So, I think there’s a ton of potential when we kind of reach that, kind of that point of really everything kind of happening in game, like even work. I mean, look at [00:50:20] that’s really just become work in a virtual or a gamified setting, which I think is interesting

[Horacio Ruiz]

A hundred percent. Yeah. You know, when you have an economy, when you’re throwing in a currency in there, that’s when stuff gets legitimised, right. Like, oh, there’s money involved. And I mean that in a good way, like it takes on a new role. And it’s funny when you say all these things, the common thread there to me is what I’m taking away is community, right. So, like socialising, when you guys are saying animal crossing and you guys are socializing together online. When you were saying your – the Reddit community that got you into Bitcoin. When you met your co-founder using the Oculus. That’s just being a member of a community. Right. And it’s okay. It’s okay that we’re taking it to some extent out of the real world and into a metaverse because it could be just as powerful,

[Desiree Dickerson]

I 100% agree. And I think there are as far as like, there are places like, I think NFTs can be really cool because I think in terms of like self-expression and I mean, I used to play second life, and it’s just like, oh my gosh, like there’s just so much potential with things like NFT’s in games like that, and Sims and whatnot. So, I mean, I think like we will just like naturally evolve to interact virtually. But I mean, I also, and I said this like on my panel on CS, I don’t think, well, I personally don’t think we’ll ever live in a world where it’s just like, it’s only virtual interactions like humans are humans and, being someone who has studied science and like primate behaviour, there is like something that’s irreplaceable at least right now with current technology, with just like human interaction and the like general human conditions. But I do think like virtual reality and the metaverse will be like a nice thing to have. A nice add on to like human interactions. So, I’m kind of like in both camps and I think they can both coexist very, very nicely.


[Horacio Ruiz]

You know, Desiree, I want to respect your time and I just want to thank you so much again for joining me on the podcast. It’s been wonderful. Is there anything in else that you want to leave off with? If not that’s okay. You’ve left us with a lot to think about.

[Desiree Dickerson]

I think I would love for people to just dive a little bit into Bitcoin. I think one of the great ways to start is to check out our games. I’m super excited you’re playing them. And I hope you play the new ones when they come out. But you people can check those out at thndr.gg. So that’s T-H-N-D-R dot G-G, no vows pretty much. And then, yeah, again, like I mentioned, like, this is a great time to get into Bitcoin. Like not only just like buy [Inaudible 00:53:03], that is not financial advice, but also to just like start working in Bitcoin. It doesn’t like you have to like [Inaudible 00:53:10] and like work full time in Bitcoin. But like you can contribute to some like really, really cool projects. So yeah. And if people are interested in where to start or, need advice, like feel free to DM me on Twitter. It’s just at @Dickerson_Does. My DM’S are open for better or for worse, but I keep them open because like, there is like the off chance that I can help someone get into Bitcoin or kind of find their way. So, it is worth all the trash DM’S that I get. So, use it wisely.

[Horacio Ruiz]


I can only imagine. So, we won’t get into that, but yeah. Desiree Dickerson, CEO and co-founder of THNDR Games. Thank you so much again, it was a pleasure. 

[Desiree Dickerson]

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

[Horacio Ruiz]


Desiree’s commitment to see Bitcoin’s potential to change marketplaces really comes through. And what an avenue she has taken to affect change through gaming. Whether you believe in crypto or not. One thing is certain, and it’s that industry leaders like Desiree are hard at work looking to create a different, if not better financial future. If you enjoy today’s podcast, let others know about it. We find our guests so interesting and knowledgeable, and I know others will too, or leave a review or hit the follow button.

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Author

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio Ruiz

Horacio is a veteran math teacher of the New York City public school system. Prior to teaching, he lived in New Orleans where he worked in sales for the New Orleans Hornets before joining The Institute for Sport and Social Justice to rebuild homes in the Lower Ninth Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. He currently lives in Staten Island with his wife, Alicia, his three sons; Oliver, Henry, and Jacob, and their pitt-mi,x Tipitina. In 2019, Horacio published a biography, The White Knight: Calvin Patterson and the Integration of Florida State University Football.

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